Reconstructing with trace information: does rapid identification information lead to better crime reconstructions?

Madeleine de Gruijter, Christianne de Poot, Henk Elffers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Currently, promising new tools are under development that will enable crime scene investigators to analyze fingerprints or DNA-traces at the crime scene. While these technologies could help to find a perpetrator early in the investigation, they may also strengthen confirmation bias when an incorrect scenario directs the investigation this early. In this study, 40 experienced Crime scene investigators (CSIs) investigated a mock crime scene to study the influence of rapid identification technologies on the investigation. This initial study shows that receiving identification information during the investigation results in more accurate scenarios. CSIs in general are not as much reconstructing the event that took place, but rather have a “who done it routine.” Their focus is on finding perpetrator traces with the risk of missing important information at the start of the investigation. Furthermore, identification information was mostly integrated in their final scenarios when the results of the analysis matched their expectations. CSIs have the tendency to look for confirmation, but the technology has no influence on this tendency. CSIs should be made aware of the risks of this strategy as important offender information could be missed or innocent people could be wrongfully accused.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-103
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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